Before the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja, Senior Advocate Geeta Luthra commenced her rejoinder arguments today on behalf of MJ Akbar in his criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani.
While addressing the court, Ms Luthra submitted that Priya Ramani concocted a fictitious story against MJ Akbar, and then published it on Twitter without any due care and caution.
While beginning her arguments by saying that for some people, reputation is more important than their life, Ms Luthra submitted that Ramani's Vogue article and subsequent tweets tarnished Akbar's reputation in the eyes of a common man.
'What is most offensive is that you make such allegations on a public domain, like Twitter, where I will have no opportunity to defend myself without indulging in mud-slinging', Ms Luthra argued.
Ms Luthra further argued that Ramani didn't produce any cogent evidence to substantiate her story against Akbar, and hence, failed to discharge her burden under section 105 of the Indian Evidence Act.
After reminding the court of the statements given by the prosecution witnesses supporting Akbar's impeccable reputation, Ms Luthra argued that Ramani's act of publishing and disseminating her story on both media and social media is per se defamatory. She said:
'Calling someone a sexual predator is per se defamatory.'
Throughout the course of her arguments Ms Luthra kept on emphasising on her claim that Ramani made allegations against Akbar without any care and caution. While arguing that courts have set really high standards for establishing care and caution, she contended that:
'Ramani's selective memory discredits her evidence and her story. She remembers what happened in 1997, but doesn't remember the article she wrote in 2013. This shows that she wrote that Vogue article and published her tweets with mala fide intention and not in public interest.
By this argument, Ms Luthra was trying to counter the argument made by Ms Rebecca John in her final arguments wherein she had said that Ramani's statements against Akbar can't amount to defamation as it was made in public interest, to encourage more women to come out and share their stories of harassment.
Ms Luthra will continue her arguments tomorrow.